After October 5th, 2011 it was hard to visit an Apple store. Flowers, candles, and prayer cards with anecdotes and well wishes littered the fronts of the stores. There were millions of images and videos on the internet of people, old and young alike, pouring their heart out to show their gratitude to a person they'd never met. I never had a chance to meet Steve Jobs either but that didn't stop him from completely changing my life. Albeit in a different way than others may have. The experiences he created for people using software and hardware will likely cement his legacy alongside Edison and Tesla.
Just before returning to Apple in 1997 Steve gave a backroom interview in which he said,
"When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you're life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.
That's a very limited life.
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again."
Hearing this at 18 changed my life forever. This principle is my foundation as a designer and is present in every project I work on. If you don't like the way something works, change it! Take the time to educate yourself, make sure you work hard, and see through a change if not for anyone else, for yourself.
Approach to Problem Solving
When I approach a problem I ask myself a few questions:
- What is the user trying to accomplish and what's important to them?
- Who is the competition and what are their design tactics?
This approach is echoed with two business cases that have had the biggest impact on my problem solving skills were the rise of Japanese Auto Manufacturers and the reinvention of the Taiwanese Health Care Industry.
In both instances they were able to leapfrog the current leaders by absorbing what worked and fixing what didn't. Major takeaways for me included:
- Incremental Continual Improvement
- Integrated Effort
- Just-In-Time Manufacturing
- Reduction of Process Complexity
I find that picking and choosing the best ideas from companies or groups doing something well and adapting or molding it to meet my requirements seems to have the best outcomes. There is a given with 99.9% probability that someone has said something better than you. I often try to learn from the thoughts and ideas of brilliant people. Here are few I use frequently.